Antiphony — (an-TIF-uh-nee) definition: a responsive, musical utterance
Since 2008, a cappella ensemble Antiphony has been delighting audiences with their annual spring concerts (as well as a few other shows in between). Saturday, April 24th, they performed to a full house at the Theatre in University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, and though it didn’t feel like spring outside, they certainly warmed everyone up inside.
The 9-piece ensemble verbalized their various vociferous vocal stylings throughout the evening by strategically placing themselves on the stage in various places depending on who was being featured.
From classical pieces to Georgian folk to spirituals to Curtis Mayfield and Michael Jackson, Antiphony amazed the crowd with their arrangements. It’s quite interesting to hear the kinds of sounds that can be produced from just vocals.
Vocal ensembles are actually not something new. The Mills Brothers and the barbershop quartets used to make some pretty cool songs with nothing but their vocal cords.
I remember listening to an old radio broadcast on a tape I found and after a few tunes of The Mills Brothers, the announcer came on and explained how there were no instruments on the recordings. My jawed dropped. I could have sworn I heard a muted trumpet and a few other instruments in there.
Leon Redbone also did some pretty cool things on his records making brass sounds with his throat and voice (and of course some of his whistling tunes).
And who can ever forget Bobby McFerrin. Never mind his ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ check out his superb and brilliant 1984 version of the Beatles ‘Blackbird’.
A cappella is an Italian word meaning ‘in the manner of the church or chapel’. A cappella music itself goes back to the 15th century and regained popularity in the 19th century. Church choirs have been around for centuries also.
Many vocal styles have been done over the ages, but like anything that’s been done before, sometimes you get something that’s new, exciting, fresh and original.
Antiphony blends many styles, as was apparent when they started off the show with something that seemed to be a cross between Gregorian chants and Inuit throat singing in the Bengt Ernyrd composition ‘Sagostunden (Time For Fairytales)’. They also did a Chic Gamine piece entitled ‘Butterfly Woman’.
Halfway through the first set, we were reminded of time in the Stephen Chatman arrangement ‘Clocks’ where they all mimicked the ticking of different clocks including a cuckoo clock. ‘Home in d’Rock’ was the first spiritual piece of the night and would have fit in nicely in any church service.
There was a short intermission where the audience could purchase CD’s or enter the two draws.
In the second half of the show, they pulled out the Michael Jackson hit ‘Billie Jean’ where they even did a bit of beat-boxing.
The next tune was by Papa Charlie Jackson/ Dom Flemons ‘Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine’. This piece was their most theatrical song of the night. They caught everyone off guard when they all pulled out kazoos in the middle of the song and did a kazoo solo. A real fun piece for performers and audience alike.
They ended the evening with something that wasn’t in the program, the Curtis Mayfield tune ‘People Get Ready’ which has been covered by many artists including Rod Stewart with Jeff Beck and Bob Marley in his song, ‘One Love/ People Get Ready’. They did a beautiful and touching version as they each took turns reciting lines.
This piece was their encore, as the response to the show was so great that they just had to come back to perform it. As the song goes,”Cause there’s no hiding place from the Kingdom’s Throne.” How can you hide when you make such beautiful sounds. Actually there were two audience members hiding. Soprano Kristel Peters is expecting twins in August.
Antiphony released an EP Point in Space in 2010 and a full length album Convergence in 2013.
Antiphony is Andrew Koropatnick – bass; Scott Reimer – Tenor / Bass; Matthew Knight – Bass; Amy Bortoluzzi – alto; James Magnus-Johnston – Tenor; Anna Wiebe – Mezzo-soprano; Amanda Buhse – Alto; Dawn – Marie Hildebrand – Soprano; Kristel Peters – Soprano
Sagostunden (Time for Fairytales) – Bengt Ernyrd, arr: Hävard Gravdal/ PUST
Butterfly Woman – Chic /Gamine, arr: Antiphony
Ave Maris Stella – Edvard Grieg
Clocks – From ‘Time Pieces’, Stephen Chatman
Home in d’Rock – Traditional Spiritual, arr: Brian Tate
Vaxtanguri – Traditional Georgian Folk, transcription: Matthew Knight
I Am The Great Sun – Jussi Chydenius
Earth- Imogen Heap – arr: Rene Bergeron
Tre Lå – A. Claesson, arr: Hans Kennemark
A Maiden Is In A Ring – Hugo Alfvén
Go! Don’t Stop – Music and Lyrics: Tine Fris, arr: Tine Fris, Line Grith and Kristoffer Thorning
Stolen Moments – Oliver Nelson, lyrics Mark Murphy, arr. Randy Crenshaw
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson, arr: Scott Reimer
Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine – Papa Charlie Jackson/ Dom Flemons, arr: Matthew Knight
People Get Ready – Curtis Mayfield, arr: Scott Reimer
All photos by Doug Kretchmer